Israeli group asks court to punish Netanyahu over legal plan

Tel Aviv, Israel –

Israel’s Good Governance Group said on Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had violated a conflict of interest agreement designed to prevent him from dealing with the country’s judiciary while he was on trial for corruption. asked the country’s Supreme Court to punish him.

Demands by the movement for a quality government in Israel have intensified a brewing showdown between the Netanyahu government and the judiciary, seeking to overhaul it with a controversial plan that has sparked widespread opposition. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, military and business leaders voiced their opposition, and Israel’s key allies expressed concern.

Netanyahu’s government is proceeding with a parliamentary vote this week, the centerpiece of an overhaul. The law gives the ruling coalition the final say on all judicial appointments.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, was the first to break ranks late Saturday by calling for a freeze on the law. Gallant cited confusion within the military over the plan. However, it was unclear whether others would follow him.

On Sunday, Israel’s Movement for a Quality Government, a staunch opponent of the overhaul, called on the court to compel Netanyahu to obey the law or face a fine or prison sentence. It said he was not above the law.

“A prime minister who does not follow the provisions of the courts and laws is a privileged class and an anarchist,” said group head Eliad Shlaga, a term used by Netanyahu and his allies against protesters against the overhaul. repeated. “The prime minister will be forced to bow before the law and abide by its provisions.”

Netanyahu has been barred by the country’s attorney general from directly addressing his government’s plans to reform the judicial system based on the conflict of interest agreement in which he is bound, and the Supreme Court ruled during Netanyahu’s trial. Netanyahu admitted in judgment on suitability to serve.Corruption. Instead, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, an aide to Netanyahu, is spearheading the overhaul.

But on Thursday, Netanyahu said he was relieved of the prosecutor’s decision after parliament passed a law making it difficult to remove a sitting prime minister, vowing to face the crisis and “fix the cracks” in the country. Attorney General Gary Baharaf Miala has warned that Netanyahu is breaking a conflict of interest agreement by joining the fray.

Guy Lurie, a research fellow at the Israel Institute for Democracy, a Jerusalem think tank, says the fast-paced legal and political developments are thrusting Israel into uncharted territory, pushing it toward a burgeoning constitutional crisis. said there is.

“We are at the beginning of a constitutional crisis in the sense that there are disagreements about the authority and legitimacy of various governing bodies,” he said.

If Netanyahu continues to intervene in the overhaul, Bakharaf-Miala could open an investigation into whether he violated the conflict of interest agreement, which could lead to additional prosecutions against him. He added that the uncertainty of the situation has made him unsure of how events might unfold.

It is also unclear how the court, which is at the center of the schism over the overhaul, will handle requests for sanctions against Netanyahu. The Movement for Quality Government said the court gave Netanyahu and the attorney general a week to respond.

Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate cases involving wealthy associates and powerful media moguls. He denies any wrongdoing and dismisses criticism that he seeks a way out of prosecution through legal review.

The overhaul will give the government control over who becomes judges, limiting judicial review of government decisions and laws. Netanyahu and his allies say the plan will restore balance between the judicial and executive branches and curb what they see as interventionist courts with liberal sympathies.

Critics say the plan will overturn Israel’s fragile system of checks and balances and push it down a path to dictatorship.

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